Making Sure Your Boat Bill of Sale is Valid and Official

boat bill of sale

Gone are the days in which a firm handshake or a person’s word would be enough to make a sale official. Maybe that works for smaller, more casual purchases, but when it comes to something like boats, ships, and vessels, you are going to need more than that. That’s when you’ll need a boat bill of sale to officialize everything.

What is a Boat Bill of Sale?

A boat bill of sale is a record of the transaction that shows you are either the new legal owner or the one selling the ship. This will be an imperative part of the purchase and there are steps that you’ll need to follow to make sure it is correct whether you are choosing to register your vessel with the state you live in or federally document your boat with the Coast Guard. This paperwork is just one part of what you will need to submit as a record of ownership when you buy a new boat or a preowned one. Once you have your document, you can move ahead with the process and file what you need with the state or the Coast Guard.

What to Include

What will you need on your bill of sale to make sure it’s valid and accurate? First, confirm that the information is right. The last thing you want is to have issues with the bill of sale simply because there was something misspelled or misinformed. You will need to include the buyer’s name and address, your name and address as the seller, the vessel’s information, and both parties’ signatures. You should also add the year, paint color, defining features, and serial number, as well as any aftermarket features that did not come with your boat’s original purchase such as new seats, fishing equipment, and other things if they pertain to your sail. If you are also selling a trailer, however, don’t include it on the bill. Instead, make a different one altogether for it.

Should You Notarize a Bill of Sale?

This is a very common (and very good) question. The answer is, well, maybe. Some states do require that the signatures on a boat bill of sale be either witnessed by at least two people or notarized. If the purchase is taking place in Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, or West Virginia, then the signatures by both parties need to be witnessed by a notary public. In these cases, do not sign the document until you are in front of a notary public or else the bill of sale will not be valid when submitted to your specific state’s agency governing boat titling

Trouble with Your Maritime Documentation? Let us Help

There’s no need for your vessel documentation to be as complicated as it might seem at first. At least not when you have Vessel Documentation Online on your side. Our team is ready to help you handle any aspect of your boating and vessel documentation, so if you are having trouble, don’t stress. If you have a question about a process or application, give us a call at 1-866-981-8783 or email us at and we’ll be in touch with you in no time.